Friend Family Health Center (Friend Health) recently opened its seventh location in the Woodlawn neighborhood at the corner of 63rd and Cottage Grove Avenue. With the opening of this new Health Center in the 20th Ward on Chicago’s South Side, 35,000 patients annually will be served and it will create 250 new jobs. It will also provide the Woodlawn community with critical physical, behavioral and dental health services through an integrated whole-person care approach.
The July 8, 2022, ribbon-cutting ceremony featured remarks from Friend Health leadership – CEO Verneda Bachus and Board Chairman Sean Harden; Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot; Congressman Bobby Rush (IL-01); and Leon Walker, Managing Partner, DL3; and community partners; a tour of the facility; coffee and refreshments provided by Southside Grinds, a local, Black- and woman-owned coffee business based out of Bronzeville.
The approximately $43 million, two-phased medical campus, is located within a Medically Underserved Area as defined by Health Resources and Services Administration. The new medical campus will bring vital healthcare services to the community including pediatric care, adult medicine, women’s health, dental care, behavioral health and immediate care. Additionally, the health center will house a full-service pharmacy and a locally owned coffee shop for its patients and the public.
Friend Health is a federally qualified health center (FQHC), providing affordable access to all regardless of insurance, financial status or immigration status. It currently operates six locations on Chicago’s South Side including Back of the Yards, Gage Park/West Englewood, Hyde Park/Washington Park, Woodlawn, West Elsdon, and a school-based health center in Bronzeville. Each location offers integrated medical and behavioral health, and some also offer dental and pharmacy services. The new Friend Health Woodlawn Health Center will represent its largest and most comprehensive offering of these services in a way that is affordable and accessible to the community.
“This is a milestone many years in the making, and we are grateful to the Woodlawn community for the warm welcome,” said Verneda Bachus, CEO of Friend Health. “Our mission is to aid people in managing their physical and mental health while addressing and eliminating healthcare disparities, and we’re ready to get to work, advocate for our patients and open our doors to the community.”
Friend Health Woodlawn Health Center represents a key component of the revitalization effort at the 63rd and Cottage Grove intersection which is part of a four-corner strategy supported by the City of Chicago. The project was developed by DL3 Realty, designed by Moody Nolan and constructed by Powers and Sons, all Black-owned enterprises. This project was financed with a new market tax credit investment from Wells Fargo, Urban Development Fund, Score and McCormack Baron Salazar. Lender financing was provided by the Chicago Community Loan Fund and IFF, and upon construction of the second phase, the project will receive additional support from the City of Chicago, including $8 million in TIF and a $2.5 million Chicago Recovery Grant.
“Every Chicagoan, regardless of where they live, must have equitable access to quality healthcare,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “The new Friend Healthy Facility and its dedicated staff will make a measurable difference for the residents and families of Woodlawn and further address the need for comprehensive health services across our city. I’m proud to celebrate this moment with the entire Woodlawn community.”
To learn more about Friend Health, visit www.friendhealth.org.